Quest to the Pacific Northwest - Matanuska Glacier in Anchorage
August 2, 2015 - Day 5
Woke up to a beautiful day on Sunday. Our hosts at the Turnagain View B&B were very friendly when we finally got the chance to visit with them at breakfast (as we had been out driving most of the evening the night before). We had fresh pumpernickel toast, eggs, homemade reindeer/moose sausage, and rhubarb with spiced apples for breakfast. Despite the place being lovely and very comfortable, Tom and I decided we are not really B&B people in general because it takes extra effort to make small talk and meet new people who expect you to chat. We tend to be more direct and down to business with overnight stays, especially when we are really only sleeping there for a night. Would highly recommend this place though!
Saturday's evening activities took less overall time than we had planned so we did all the things we had scheduled for Sunday morning already. We did some quick research while we had wi-fi and decided that hiking and a glacier viewing sounded fun. After breakfast, we got into our hiking gear and decided to go north to the Matanuska Glacier and maybe hike some small trails as well. Pete, Ellen, and Carl were all awake and up for the adventure so we picked them up at their hotel closer to Anchorage and piled into the Malibu for the 1.5-2 hr drive north. We stopped at a grocery store on the way for picnic supplies, and ate our lunch at the scenic view point, a few miles from the edge of the glacier.
The glacier is on private land, so after signing several waivers and paying a small free per person, the owners will let you walk around on your own for the first 1/2 mile or so. After that point, you either need to go with a guided tour, or know how to traverse glaciers safely. We opted to explore on our own and had a great time. I recommend hiking boots for the best comfort, but Ellen and plenty of others we saw wore sneakers (definitely no flip flops or boat shoes here though). It was about 65° in the parking lot, and closer to 50° on the surface of the glacier. You hiked about 10 min across mud flats until you reach the edge of the glacier which is ice with some gravel.
Face of the glacier as viewed from the gravel parking lot
After walking through mud, we crossed a few hundred yards of gravel and silt. These metal planks serve as foot bridges across the crevasses.
Beautiful and yet terrifying to look down upon as you cross a crevasse
Rocking the boots with the fur! These were perfect for hiking the glacier.
Everyone loved this adventure. We could have stayed here for another hour just exploring.
After hiking for over an hour and taking lots of pictures, we threw the muddy boots in the trunk and headed back to Anchorage.
Tip: keep some grocery bags, garbage bags, or even the plastic laundry bags from the hotel in the rental car when doing outdoor activities as they are perfect for ditching dirty gear.
This was the first day/stop on the Princess land tour and they had everything ready for us to check into the Captain Cook Hotel in downtown Anchorage when we arrived. Check in including information packets and room keys. Took some logistics to get the rental car back to the airport and all the luggage to the hotel, but the guys managed it while Ellen and I scouted out dinner and repacked some bags since we can take only 1 for the land portion and then we send the others ahead to meet us at the ship. We ended up eating at Humpy's Alaskan Alehouse which had great local brews and fresh fish. Too tired for dessert, we walked back to the hotel, finished the baggage shuffle, and turned in. John arrived from New Zealand (where he had been studying abroad), via Sydney and LA around 11 pm.
Monday we start the Princess land tour as we head North to the town of Talkeeta, and Denali (Mt McKinley) base camp.